|Utah Poet Michael Lavers|
Michael Lavers, of Provo, Utah, has won the 2018 Tampa Review Prize for Poetry for his first book of poems, After Earth. In addition to a $2,000 check, the award includes hardback and paperback book publication in 2019 by the University of Tampa Press.
Poems by Lavers have appeared in Crazyhorse, 32 Poems, The Hudson Review, Best New Poets 2015, TriQuarterly, The Georgia Review, and elsewhere. He has been awarded the Chad Walsh Poetry Prize, the University of Canberra Vice-Chancellor's International Poetry Prize, and the Page Davidson Clayton Prize for Emerging Poets.
Tampa Review judges praised his manuscript for its lyricism and intelligence:
“After Earth constructs a fascinating perspective on our planet and our lives. On one hand it is tender, personal, and intimate—a father singing a lovely lullaby for his newborn infant—and on another it is breathtakingly cosmic, detached, and nearly post-apocalyptic—looking at Earth as a blip in a science fiction spacetime multiverse unfolding in terms of light years and infinite distances. The author draws from a reservoir of scientific, theological, and literary sources to build a structure for the book with something of the architectural strength and uplifting decorative beauty of a gothic cathedral.”
Lavers earned his undergraduate degree from Brigham Young University. He continued his education to complete an MFA at Johns Hopkins, and PhD at the University of Utah. Together with his wife, the writer and artist Claire Åkebrand, and their two children, he now lives in Provo, Utah, and teaches poetry at Brigham Young University.
Lavers says that the poems in this first book were written in a variety of circumstances.
”Most of the poems in After Earth were written while I was learning how to be a father,” Lavers explains, ”and so they are fueled by all the anxiety and fear, and joy and bliss, that come with that new life. They were written sometimes at home, sometimes at school or work, but also at playgrounds and parks, coming as hasty and distracted drafts while my two small kids clambered up and down slides or chased ducks. I admit to spending many hours early in the morning at McDonald's—because there was nowhere else to go—polishing what lines and stanzas I could before going home to parent, and felt somewhat reassured when I learned that for many years Harper Lee also had a regular booth at her local Golden Arches.”
“I wanted these poems to convey to my kids what really matters to me, what I would want them to know or think or feel about the world. If the book has a central tension or concern, I hope it is invoked by the title: the impulse to simply record this earth—to praise all we can, as Auden says, ‘for being and for happening’—as well as to consider what is coming next, what we might hope for, what we will miss.”
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This year the judges also announced ten finalists:
Heather Altfeld, of Chico, California, for "Selected Obituaries and Autopsies”;
William Greenway, of Ephrata, Penn., for “Everything We Bring, All We Leave Behind”;
Hunt Hawkins, of Temple Terrace, Florida, for “The Young-Old Life”;
V. P. Loggins, of Annapolis, Maryland, for “The Wild Severance”;
Sarah Fawn Montgomery, of Bridgewater, Massachusetts, for “The Intimacy of Survival”;
Emily Mohn-Slate, of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, for “The Falls”;
Peter Munro, of Kenmore, Washington, for “Fisheries Science in The North Pacific”;
William Notter, of Richmond, Virginia, for “Buying the Farm”;
Brian Simoneau, of West Hartford, Connecticut, for “No Small Comfort”; and
Ross White, of Durham, North Carolina, for “Guilt Ledger.”
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The Tampa Review Prize for Poetry is given annually for a previously unpublished booklength manuscript. Judging is by the editors of Tampa Review, who are members of the faculty at the University of Tampa. Submissions are now being accepted for 2019. Entries should follow the published guidelines and must be received online or postmarked by December 31, 2018.
Complete guidelines are available at tampareview.org/submissions or by sending a self-addressed, stamped envelope to The Tampa Review Prize for Poetry, University of Tampa Press, 401 West Kennedy Blvd., Tampa, FL 33606.